Since March we’ve been working with strategic adviser and coach, Andy Salmon, to develop our understanding of how to build high performance teams. I’m sure many of you reading this blog will have heard this all before, the consultant coming in to borrow your watch and tell you the time, a load of buzz phrases which mean little to start with and then rapidly lose their usefulness and impact when you return to the office.
Well, like many changes we’ve made over the last year at Wealth Wizards, this new approach has worked out a little differently.
Firstly there’s Andy. In my lazy mind’s eye I imagined a competent version of General Melchett – a man used to command, loyalty and obedience. Instead, we had a charismatic collaborator in our midst, sharing simple ideas and tools which we can instantly apply to improve the way we work. These kind of tools and ideas work because they become habits – this is the way we like to do things around here.
Lesson #1 – Look After Your SHED
Your mind won’t work if your body is broken. Sounds obvious right? So how come so many of us are chained to our desks, working long stressful hours and finding excuses not to get to the gym? Of course we need to put in sometimes extreme bursts of effort to get things done, but if we don’t consider our team’s physical well-being then our work is shaping our body, not the other way around. So our first credo is look after your SHED.
What does this mean in practice? Firstly it provides a great shorthand which everyone in the team understands. Mention your SHED to anyone in the team and they’ll know what you’re talking about. Making this a part of our every day conversations has led to many small changes in the way in which we approach our work. For example:
- Walking Meetings – If you only have two of you in a meeting, then conduct it on the hoof. It’s such a simple change to make and it gets you out of the office, adding to your daily step count.
- Health Wizards – This is the ultimate manifestation of SHED management. We’ve formed a group to capture and implement ideas to help with this. For example, each month we host a step count challenge. Everyone in the company has been given a pedometer wristband and every month we are formed into teams – and yes, the team with the most average steps a month gets a prize!
- Commitment Buddies – At our last team offsite visit we all committed to change one thing to improve our SHED and buddied up with a colleague outside our immediate team to act as conscience and supporter.
- Stand-up Desks – We all have desks which can be raised and lowered and we all use them to stand up for a portion of the day.
All simple stuff I hear you say! Of course it is, however, it’s a mantra that’s stuck and one that continues to drive changes in the way we behave every day.
Lesson 2 – Pilot your BOATS
Bill S. Preston, Esq. told us to “be excellent to each other”. This has become one of our key Principles, which I’m sure we’ll discuss more in a future blog post. It’s difficult to live by this prinicple if you’re stressed, however we believe that you can choose your mood. Whatever is going on at work, you can make a positive impact rather than hoovering anyone’s mood.
BOATS is a bit more abstract than SHED so probably bears a little more explanation.
Body Posture sets the tone in a room or an interaction. Walk into a room of people slouched over their desks, arms crossed and you feel your energy draining from you. At a previous Company, our in-house legal advisor observed that we were like Dementors (a Harry Potter reference for any fans out there) during contract negotiations, gradually sucking the joy from the air as we battered suppliers into weary submission. We aim to be the opposite here! If you stand up straight and your posture is open, you will feel better – fact!
Breathing (O2) helps you think and control your emotions if they’re running high. Breathing exercises help, and it’s not uncommon to see people closing their eyes and taking a few, meditative deep breaths. It helps, really!
We have other tools to encourage people to be excellent to each other (more in future blogs) but if you don’t Appreciate yourself, then who else will? Stepping back and recognising that you’re doing a good job is very therapeutic – if you don’t feel you are, then you probably need to change something!
Do you know what Triggers positive and negative thoughts in you (or releases your chimp, or the metaphor of your choice)? Understanding these can really help improve the way you work, and how you feel about interactions with your colleagues.
Lastly, do you think that talking to yourself (Self Talk) is the first sign of madness? We don’t. We think that the ability to stop, take a step back and have a word with yourself can make all the difference!
It’s become a thing – the Wizard’s Toolkit
These tools and others that I’ll discuss in future posts all come together in the Wizard’s Toolkit. We didn’t set out to create it, but as we built these ideas with Andy it became increasingly obvious that we needed somewhere to bring them together so we could remind ourselves and share them with new team members. The Wizard’s toolkit was born, and lives in our intranet, on the wall and in our behaviour and thoughts every day. Well OK, every other day then.
Wow, what an insight – get me back to the Tech!
So if you’ve made it this far hoping that I’d get back into kube and microservices…then I’m sorry! We’re a tech company and we’re passionate about engineering, it’s what excites us. Our ambition is to be great at everything we do, and thinking about our physical and mental wellbeing is another important part of making this a great place to work.